BURLINGTON, Vt. — The University of Vermont capitalized on several of the University of Maine’s 24 turnovers Wednesday night, gaining the upper hand while earning a 61-53 America East women’s basketball victory at Patrick Gym.
Annie Wheeler’s 14 points led a balanced offensive effort by the Catamounts (7-12, 4-2 AE), who were able to overcome 23 turnovers of their own.
The Black Bears (1-18, 0-6 AE) continued their freefall and have lost 15 consecutive games. Coach Richard Barron’s team will go into Saturday’s home game against Stony Brook trying to avoid matching a program-worst 16-game losing streak set during 2008-09.
Niki Taylor of York and Tierra Schumpert scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, for Vermont, while Lauren Wheeler contributed eight points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.
The Catamounts shot 45 percent from the floor and went 9-for-9 from the foul line.
Freshman Liz Wood sparked UMaine, logging a career high in points for the third straight contest. She netted 22 points on 8-for-16 shooting and posted seven rebounds and four steals.
Ashleigh Roberts chipped in with 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Danielle Walczak added seven points and eight rebounds for the Black Bears, who committed 17 first-half turnovers.
Sophomore point guard Courtney Anderson of Greene returned to the lineup after missing Sunday’s game with an undisclosed leg injury.
Vermont scored the first seven points of the second half to expand a 12-point lead to 38-19 and the Catamounts eventually held a 21-point advantage (46-25) on a Tonya Conley layup with 13:31 left.
Nonetheless, the Black Bears made a game of it. Trailing 48-29, Mikaela Gustafsson made a jumper to kick off a 13-0 spurt.
The run also included two free throws and a 3-pointer by Wood and Walczak’s layup, before Roberts sank two foul shots and hit a layup to make it a 48-42 contest with 8:40 remaining.
However, Schumpert scored a fast-break layup after a turnover and Annie Wheeler connected on a jumper after a UMaine miss to push Vermont’s lead back to 10. The Bears never got closer than seven after that.
“When you’re not winning, you’ve got to look for some moral victories, obviously, and I think we had one tonight in that we didn’t give up,” Barron told Don Shields of the Black Bear Sports Network. “I saw some fight out there.”
UMaine faced an uphill battle after the Catamounts took a 31-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
UMaine turned the ball over 17 times and Vermont made it hurt, scoring 13 points off those miscues. The Catamounts had 13 turnovers of their own, but the Bears managed only two points on the ensuing possessions.
Vermont shot 44 percent from the field in the half, including 3-for-5 from long distance.
The hosts surged in front with a 12-3 scoring run early in the game. The run was fueled by five UMaine turnovers, which yielded 10 points for the Catamounts.
Annie Wheeler’s jumper at the 15:14 mark kicked off the burst. She then sank two foul shots after a UMaine turnover. The next miscue by the Bears resulted in a Shumpert 3-pointer, but Wood countered with a 3-pointer for UMaine.
Wheeler canned a 3 after a turnover, then Lauren Buschmann put in a layup after the fifth UMaine turnover to make it 16-7 with 11:58 to play in the half.